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Building a Fence in Davidson County

Picture of a residential fence

One of the most common amateur home improvement projects is building a fence. It can be a great activity to do with family and friends that adds value to your home and improves your quality of life. Residential fences generally do not require permits to be constructed in Nashville, but there are several restrictions as to where a fence may be constructed on your property

The following are some guidelines to use when constructing a fence on your property in Davidson County. If you are unsure of any rules or regulations in your area, please feel free to call the Metro Codes Department at 615-862-6590.

Know your property line

It would be a shame to build an entire fence and find out after the fact that you actually built it on your neighbor’s property without their permission. Additionally, knowing your property line is an important step in understanding the setback requirements for fence heights and materials. If you aren’t sure of where your property lines begin and end, you can contract with a local land surveyor to map out the boundaries of your property. Property plats are available through the Register of Deeds’ office.

Setback Rules for Fences

Visual depiction of the setback rules for fences.

Fences can provide privacy and security for your home, but they can also be a visible or physical obstruction to motorists or first responders if not properly installed. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Solid fences have a 10’ front setback with the following exceptions;
    • Maximum height of 30” within the 10’ front setback for solid fences.
    • Maximum height of 72” for open fences such as chain link or wrought iron within the 10’ front setback.
  • Maximum 6’ height for fences within the remainder of the front setback.
  • Maximum 8’ height for fences in the side or rear setback.
  • Maximum heights are measured from the finish grade level on the side of the wall or fence with the greatest vertical exposure.
  • Corner lots have more specific restrictions, including a prohibition of fences within the 35’ visibility zone.

Note that these are general rules for Nashville. Zoning overlays or homeowners associations may have further restrictions that you need to understand before beginning construction. Learn more about your property’s zoning using the Parcel Viewer.

Fence Materials

Example of a fence with barbed wire.

The following materials are generally permitted in Nashville for the construction of fences. Note that barbed wire and electric fences are generally prohibited or restricted in residentially zoned areas. With few exceptions, no fence otherwise permitted under this code shall be erected with barbs or sharp projections on top of such fence, unless it is five feet or more from a property line or more than seven feet above grade and projecting inward. Specific details are available in Metro Code 16.04.200.

  • Woven wire or chain link
  • Wrought iron
  • Wood, vinyl, steel, or aluminum slats of no more than one inch by six inches in width hung vertically, horizontally, or diagonally between steel, wood, or vinyl posts no further than ten feet apart
  • Masonry consisting of brick, concrete block, split-face block, dry-stack stones, or stones and mortar
  • Plastic or other synthetic material treated in a manner to maintain the fence in good structural condition and with an appearance that is aesthetically compatible with the type of fence it represents
  • Decorative-type split rail or dry-stack stone may be used for decorative fences.

Fence being treated with stain and sealant.

Note: Metal fences shall consist of materials manufactured and/or treated in a manner to prevent rust or corrosion. Wood fences shall be painted, stained or preserved in a manner to maintain the fence in good structural condition. All fences shall be maintained in a manner to preserve the structural integrity and appearance of the fence, including, but not limited to, the replacement of broken boards or sections and preventing paint from peeling.

Call Before You Dig

Anytime you have a project that involves digging holes in your yard, you must call Tennessee 811 in order to prevent damage to underground utilities. It is a free service that can save you a lot of money if you were to accidentally hit a utility line while digging. You should give no less than 3 working days and no more than 10 working days’ notice before calling 811.